1 of 2 endangered African birds that escaped from zoo during storm is recaptured

1 of 2 endangered African birds that escaped from zoo during storm is recaptured

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Wanted: An endangered African ground hornbill named Najuma that escaped from the Honolulu Zoo over the weekend after a tree fell on its enclosure during strong winds.

Actually, two of the birds escaped, but one was recaptured Monday morning, lured back to its cage with food and its mate’s call.

The other bird is a 13-year-old male, zoo officials say, and is “very approachable.”

But please don’t approach it, they say. Instead, if you see it, call 911.

“The biggest fear is that we won’t retrieve him alive,” said Thomas Bojorquez, avian zookeeper at Honolulu Zoo.

In the hours after the escapes Sunday, one of the birds was reported to be heading towards the Ala Wai golf course, while the other was seen in Kapiolani Park — ironically perched on one of the century-old kiawe trees that was blown over earlier in the day.

Armed with a giant net, crews attempted to catch the bird at the park, but the bird was too quick for them as it flew away. Then, on Monday morning, one of the birds was spotted close to home — in a banyan tree outside the zoo.

Officials say the bird eventually made its way back into the zoo, where keepers were able to catch it before it could fly off again.

Two African ground hornbills escaped from an storm damaged enclosure at the Honolulu Zoo in Waikiki.
Two African ground hornbills escaped from an storm damaged enclosure at the Honolulu Zoo in Waikiki. (HAWAII NEWS NOW)

The other missing bird, Najuma, is another story.

It was last spotted near the Diamond Head lookout early Monday morning. It’s probably very hungry, zoo officials said.

Southern ground hornbills, endemic to Africa, are classified as vulnerable to extinction. There are only about 1,500 individuals left in the wild in their native South Africa.

According to National Geographic, loss of habitat, loss of nesting trees, electrocution from transformer boxes and poaching have all contributed to the rapid decline of these majestic birds.

Zoo workers capture 1 of 2 endangered birds that escaped during severe weather

The bird that’s still being looked for was actually hatched at the Honolulu Zoo.

This isn’t the first time the zoo has scrambled to retrieve an escaped animal.

In 2017, a chimpanzee got out of its holding area. The animal created a finger hold and scaled an exhibit.

City officials say he climbed on top of the wall separating the aviary exhibit from the chimpanzee display, then jumped into the chimp holding area, but did not go into a public space.

In 2014, Puiwa, a male chimpanzee, jumped off a barrel and escaped from his cage.

A staff member shot the animal with a tranquilizer gun while he was sitting on a wall outside the enclosure.

Two years earlier, Elvis, a siamang gibbon, was able to leap from a wooden feeding platform, over a moat and grab onto the outside wall and climb out.

In that case, staff used carbon dioxide canisters to get him back inside.

Also in 2012, three exotic birds escaped after vandals cut holes in wire cages.

And in 2008, a Sumatran tiger named Berani left his exhibit after an employee neglected to secure two gates. Staff coaxed him into a secure holding area with food.

This story will be updated.

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